MaxWilder wrote:I'll never forget the Best Original Song debacle two years ago. Lady Gaga performs "Til It Happens to You" and everyone watching is transfixed. It's a powerful moment. Of course she'll win. Then the presenters come out and the Oscar goes to that Sam Smith abortion from Spectre. (He then has the balls to claims he's the first openly gay man to win an Oscar.) If that can happen, clearly the broader context/moment has no influence on voting.
Actually, I'd argue that the broader context DOES matter, but that broader context isn't how hyped the song is, or in what ways it speaks to the zeitgeist, but the far simpler matter of Did people see/like the film from which it came? During the run-up to that Oscar presentation, it was easy to forget that Till It Happens to You came from a documentary that no one saw and most had never even heard of (right now, I can't even remember the name). And that has, historically, mattered in this category. I remember, many years ago, 1972, most of us thought that Ben -- a minor hit for not-quite-yet-superstar Michael Jackson -- would be the default winner, despite it coming from a lightly-attended horror film (sequel to the bigger hit Willard). But The Morning After triumphed instead, presumably because it was from the widely-seen and much-nominated The Poseidon Adventure. Over the decades since, it's been very hard for even a highly-regarded song to win unless it came from a film that voters saw. I'm not saying the film has to be a full-on blockbuster, but it has to be at least part of the conversation -- Once, for instance, wasn't a top earner, but its huge push from critics helped Falling Slowly pull out a win. The only song from a true flop movie I can recall over those years was I Just Called to Say I Love You...but there, you had a genuine luminary in Stevie Wonder, and a song that had got to number one on the charts. Gaga's song had nothing like that going for it; in retrospect, it seemed logical for a song from a $200 million domestic grosser to top it.
What does that tell us for this year? Well, for starters, that Diane Warren should prepare to go home empty-handed again, since Marshall was a box-office dud (a bit of a shame -- not that the movie's terribly special, but it does offer a truly charismatic Chadwick Boseman performance). Warren's biggest problem is her tendency toward the bland and banal, but at least in her early years she was associated with more prominent films. Now, she's strictly filler. I should add that this song is given a rousing rendition at the end of the film (much as Gaga provided two years ago), but, by then, the few who even bother to watch the film will likely have pressed Stop.
Mudbound pretty much maxed out on nominations (unless you took it seriously as a best picture prospect), so Mighty River can't be ruled out, especially in tandem with Blige's acting nod. I think the song is respectable, though a bit shrug-worthy -- not quite sure why she got cited this time and not for the more widely-heard/similar song in The Help.
On BJ's warning, I've stayed away from The Greatest Showman, but I watched what was available of This Is Me on YouTube, and...I don't know what some of you are hearing. I think both of this songwriting team's songs from last year were infinitely superior to this effort. This Is Me reminds me of those Disney cartoon power ballads, all of which are utterly bland/hard to distinguish from one another, and all seem like they could double as gay coming-out anthems. I don't find the Globe win much of an argument in support of an Oscar repeat -- there've been occasional Globe/Oscar matches, usually when the choice was obvious (Skyfall, City of Stars), but just as often they disagree (the Globes gave Diane Warren a win!) or Oscar omits the Globe winner entirely. The main thing this song has going for it would be the astonishing gross the film has racked up...though that's a bit offset by the film's failure to score any other nods. (It seemed a natural for production design or at least costumes.) I may be having a blind spot here, but I don't think the song is as strong an entry as many seem to.
In fact, before I began reading Internet commentary, I thought of this as basically a two-way race, between Remember Me and The Mystery of Love. The former seemed to me the logical favorite: a tune with an easy-to-remember hook, well-and-emotionally-used within the narrative of yet another hit animated film. (BJ is right to note how many song Oscars that's accounted for in the past three decades -- though it might be noted that the 1989-99 years account for 7 of the 10 winners.) And I'd argue the song, while simple, doesn't feel like it came off an assembly-line -- there's enough freshness to it that, were it to win, I wouldn't feel like it was in the class of Colors of the Wind or You'll Be in My Heart.
But the Mystery of Love is my favorite of the bunch. It's the one nominee -- well, maybe one of two; include Mighty River -- that feels like it comes from a modern place, rather than Tin Pan Alley on life-support. I think that "stand out from the pack" quality might help it. The song's handicap would, of course, be that its source film Call Me by Your Name hasn't been as widely seen as Coco or Greatest Showman. But this is where Call Me by Your Name's status as best picture/actor/screenplay contender will come in handy. Conscientious voters will have to watch it, to vote honorably in those major categories, so they'll hear the song in context and, perhaps, remember it more than some of the others. I think if you give the song an equal shot, it has a chance of winning.
I feel like the smart bet is still Remember Me, but I'll probably be weighing this one right to the end.